Physical Science

“As the blackness of the night recedes so does the nadir of yesterday. The child I am forgets so quickly.” –Sylvia Ashton-Warner While the night sky is littered with thousands of points of light — the stars visible to the naked eye — we know that beyond what human perception can see, there are hundreds of…

“You can spend too much time wondering which of identical twins is the more alike.” –Robert Brault Earlier today, NASA announced the “most Earth-like exoplanet yet,” a planet just 60% larger in radius than our own, orbiting a star of the same spectral class as our Sun and with an almost identical orbital period: 385…

“It was quite the most incredible event that has ever happened to me in my life. It was almost as incredible as if you fired a 15-inch shell at a piece of tissue paper and it came back and hit you.” –Ernest Rutherford Over 100 years ago, Ernest Rutherford fired a stream of alpha particles…

Have Laptop, Will Travel

Having mentioned in yesterday’s post that I’ll be on sabbatical for the next academic year, this would probably be a good time to point out that this means I’m somewhat more flexible than usual in terms of going places and giving talks. And I enjoy going places and giving talks. About

When you think of the night sky — of a good, dark night sky — you probably think of going away, far into the wilderness, away from all human activity. If you’re a little more clever, you’ll head up, to the top of a high mountain, where the air is thin and steady. And if you…

14 Years Before the Class(room)

This past academic year was my 14th as a professor at Union, and my last as department chair. I’m on sabbatical for the 2015-16 academic year, doing my very best to avoid setting foot in an academic building, so it will be September 2016 before I’m teaching a class again. This seems like a good…

In theTop 10

This year’s CWTS Leiden Ranking put the Weizmann Institute at number 10 — and number one outside of the US — for impact. What is impact? In dry terms, it is publications in excellent journals and citations, weighted for institute size and evaluated by subject. This prestigious ranking favors the Weizmann Institute, because it compares…

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” –Edgar Allan Poe Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope, we’ve learned for a certainty that the black abyss of empty space isn’t really so empty. Far beyond what we can perceive with our naked…

“Well, this is a thing unheard of. An Elf would go underground, where a Dwarf dare not. Oh, I’d never hear the end of it.” –Gimli, Lord of the Rings When you think about the different elements present here on Earth, I hope you think about the different ways they bind together, combine, and add…

“Just as a Chihuahua is still a dog, these ice dwarfs are still planetary bodies. The misfit becomes the average. The Pluto-like objects are more typical in our solar system than the nearby planets we first knew.” -Alan Stern The last week here at Starts With A Bang saw some great articles that went from Pluto to stars…